By spotogspindel | February 19, 2013
I am not even sure if “lyed” is a word. You might have to gel me on that. Anyway. You know how all techniques have their “don´t-do-this-or-you´ll-ruin-the-whole-thing”-rules? Many a good art-by-accident has occurred by defying these rules. Using bleach on dark fabrics for instance can make beautiful and powerful images. Today I wanted to try something I´ve only heard about, to see if it really was true.
You see, I had this little piece of oak, and I had heard that oak turns into silvery-grey when you use lye on it. I saw images of driftwood-look-alikes in my head, and found the equipment I needed.
Caustic soda + plastic gloves + safety goggles + natural soap + plastic bucket + lots of fresh air!
The caustic soda is some seriously nasty stuff, and you want to be REALLY careful with it!!! Add a bit of water in you bucket, then slowly ad the soda. NEVER the other way around, or you´ll get a chemical geyser in your face before you can say help! I cannot stress this enough!
Also I decided very quickly to take the bucket outside. You simply cannot breathe in the fumes. Seriously. An open window is not enough.
Below you can see the pieces of oak. The top one is the original colored one (a little wet on the righthand side.)
And below is the one I exposed to the lye.
I made a fairly strong mix, so the reaction was pretty instant. However it didn´t turn grey at all, but a dark, warm brownish color, almost like mahogany. I let it rest under running water, then in natural soapy water, before rinsing it again. There seems to be a lot of excess color. Which isn´t color at all, but some sort of chemical reaction between the wood, the chemical, and the water. I did scrub it with steel-wool as well, to help get excess chemicals off the wood. I have to admit I´m looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it´s dry.
I´ll let you know tomorrow!